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Silica is commonly used in building materials and cement operations. Construction Laborers are frequently over-exposed to dusts that contain microscopic silica fibers that lodge in the lungs and eventually cause silicosis, a deadly and irreversible lung disease. These fibers can also be toxic to the skin, and autoimmune disorders and chronic renal disease sometimes result from silica exposures.

Fortunately, two simple and cost-effective controls – local exhaust ventilation and wet cutting – are easily applied and are effective in reducing exposures. Last month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a proposed standard to regulate silica exposures in construction. The LHSFNA is preparing detailed comments on the proposal, and we want your input. Let us know if:

  • You have members who have high exposures to silica on their jobs
  • You have contractors who have made significant efforts to reduce exposures to silica on their worksites
  • You know of members suffering from silicosis due to exposures on the job
  • You have a personal story about overexposure to silica on the job
  • You have ideas for simple, inexpensive ways to reduce silica exposures in construction

You can contact the Occupational Safety and Health Division at 202-628-5465 or by email at OSHA has issued a fact sheet on the proposed standard. For more information, see OSHA Proposes Silica Rule for Construction and Summary of Proposed Silica Standard for Construction in the September LIFELINES ONLINE.

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